Joy In the Journey

"The best gift you can give others is a
healthy, energized, focused self."

- Sarah Edmonds

You can't give away something you don't have. Therefore, it is important that you intentionally infuse joy in your life. 

We all have goals, priorities, responsibilities, and obligations. But one of your primary purposes in life is to enjoy it!

In my daily planner, I have a section for life-fulfillment activities so I can be intentional about enjoying life.

Here are 3 areas of life that can help you experience Joy in the Journey:
 

1. SPIRITUAL

Build inner strength through solitude, inspirational reading, gratitude, meditation, prayer, journaling, a walk in nature, etc.

2. CREATIVE

Make sure you are spending some time pursuing your favorite hobbies and interests. Life is too short to not do some things you truly enjoy. And what you do off the 'job' affects how you are on the job.

3. RELATIONAL

Strong relationships are the foundation of a healthy life. Make sure your family is a priority. Make it a habit to go out to dinner, a concert, a ballgame or a movie with friends. Be intentional about spending time with people who bring out the best in you.

There is a line in the movie Auntie Mame where Rosalind Russell says,

"Life is meant to be a feast
and most poor suckers are starving to death."

Make it your responsibility to enjoy the feast.
If you are not enjoying life, it's unlikely people will enjoy you.

 

Proving vs. Improving Yourself

"I want to be learning so fast that I am constantly surprised
at how stupid I was two weeks ago."

- Alan Weiss

A number of years ago I was sitting in a meeting when someone made a statement that I thought was incredibly insightful and profound. The person said, 

"Successful people look at themselves as a work in progress.
Unsuccessful people look at themselves as the finished product."

No one else even flinched.
Think about the positive implications of living life as a journey rather than a test.

Here are 3 benefits to changing your mindset from trying to prove yourself to trying to improve yourself.


1. RESILIENCE

When you look at life as a journey and your goal is to get better, failures and mistakes are simply a way to learn and bounce back stronger than before. If you are trying to prove yourself, failures and mistakes become discouraging and weakening.
 

2. OPENNESS TO FEEDBACK

All of us were born on the wrong side of our eyeballs. We don't see ourselves the way others see us. We have blind spots. When others give us feedback, it's an opportunity to learn something new. If you are trying to prove yourself, you avoid feedback. And when you do receive it, the tendency is to be defensive or to deny.
 

3. FREEDOM

It's a lot easier living life as a journey. You don't have to be perfect. The pressure is off. You can live lighter. Everything that comes your way is an opportunity to get better.


I read a book years ago with the title, 'What Got You Here, Won't Get You There'. What a great life philosophy. Let's not be complacent, the only direction you can coast is downhill.

When we are through growing, we're through.

The Lost Art of Listening

"Listening is a strange and magnetic thing.
The one who listens to us is the one we are drawn to."

- Karl Menninger

True listening is hard work. It takes focus and concentration. It takes being others-oriented. It means getting out of our world and being interested in someone else's world.

Also, people speak at an average of 125 words per minute. But the mind can comprehend at a rate of 400 words per minute. That's a lot of time to go on a mental vacation!

I'd like to share with you a simple, 4-step listening model that can help us all become better listeners.

It's the LISA Model.

LISTEN
Listen to truly understand, not to respond. Listening is not simply refraining from talking while the other person is speaking. When listening, try temporarily putting yourself in the other person's place.

INQUIRE
Ask follow up questions. If you say, "Tell me more about that," you will be immediately in the top percentile of effective listeners. Very few people do that.

SUMMARIZE
Paraphrase what the other person has said. True listening and understanding only occurs when the other person understands that you understand.

ACKNOWLEDGE
Do you notice this fourth step isn't 'Agree'? You don't have to agree with the other person, but acknowledging their viewpoint is powerful. This sounds something like:

  • "I can see why you say that." or

  • "That's an understandable perspective."

Can you even imagine if someone tried this on a political talk show?

Listening is challenging, but it pays big dividends.

Listening is equated with wisdom and intelligence. Listening conveys respect to the other party. Listening helps you truly connect with another person. Listening means you are learning something. Listening increases your ability to influence.

Working on your listening skills will make you better at life and will make your life better.

"Seek first to understand, then be understood."
- Stephen Covey
Habit #5 in Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

The Single Best Way to Overcome Procrastination

"Things at rest tend to stay at rest. Things in motion tend to stay in motion."
– Newton's Law of Physics


I often sit in the living room watching a football game, telling myself that I will put the laundry into the dryer during the next commercial. When the commercial comes on, I don't feel like getting up to do this simple task. Despite my dislike for most commercials, I want to continue sitting there. This is a simple example of Newton's Law of Physics.

I want to share with you a blinding flash of the obviousthe best way to overcome procrastination is to get started, despite your feelings.

Remember, motion creates emotion. We often have to act our way into feeling.

How many times have you procrastinated on doing a performance review, or cleaning the garage, or going to the gym? Once you got started, you got some momentum. You started feeling like you wanted to knock the task out.

It's like getting into a cold pool, the hardest part is the beginning. So when facing procrastination, emphasize the start rather than thinking of the whole task. Often, you just need willpower and determination for a few moments in the beginning.

But once you overcome that initial obstacle, the rest is much easier.

You will be amazed at how much you can get done when you quit thinking and calculating and just get in motion.


When you do the things you need to do when you need to do them, the day will come when you can do the things you want to do when you want to do them."

– Zig Ziglar

Experiences Over Stuff

"Success to me is having those closest to me,
love and respect me the most."

- John Maxwell

A few years ago we had granite countertops installed in our kitchen. The day they were installed I came home from work and thought, 'Wow, the place looks great.' That feeling slowly diminished to the point that a few weeks later, when I came home from work, I barely noticed the new countertops.

Right now I am writing from a hotel in my hometown of Chicago. Every August our family gets away for a long weekend to see my beloved Cubs play at Wrigley Field and enjoy the downtown area. This trip has become one of the highlights of our year, every year.

It's strange, but it seems that material things often diminish in enjoyment over time but experiences and memories expand.

The point of this post is not: don't get granite countertops!

I like 'stuff' just as much as anyone. I have a lot of gadgets. My point is to make sure you acquire experiences, not just stuff.

The most important things in life are not things.

Character, Competence and Connection

"A good head and a good heart
are always a formidable combination."

- Nelson Mandela

Winning in the workplace and life requires three elements; CharacterCompetence, and Connection. With apologies to Meatloaf, two out of three is bad. High performers need all three qualities.

characterchart.jpg

CHARACTER
In the diagram above, character is the inner circle. Why? Because we must be solid on the inside first. When we live with integrity, we develop self-confidence and earn the respect of others. 

COMPETENCE
All of us are gifted in a unique way. Our responsibility is to develop and refine our gifts to serve others. In a world of carpenters, decide to be a craftsman. Do your work with skill and mastery.

CONNECTION
Connection is the outer circle because the first thing people notice about you is your attitude and how you act toward them. This sounds really corny but people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. The most important things in life are not things. 

Are you the complete package?

Separate Yourself from the Pack

"You cannot get ahead while you are getting even."
- Lou Holtz

Years ago a manager told me about an employee who would consistently call out sick the day after his co-worker called out sick. The employee felt that if his co-worker could abuse the attendance guidelines, he could too.

I once worked in an office suite where many co-workers held long personal conversations and spent a lot of time surfing the internet. My initial thought was,"Why should I work hard when they take it easy all day?"

But obviously, that was the wrong question.

The right questions are:

  • "How can I create extreme value?"

  • "How can I do my job with excellence?"


Our goal should not be to be like everyone else. Normal is overrated! Being exceptional means you have to be an exception!

Develop an intense distaste for mediocrity. Strive for excellence with the work at hand. Doing your best at the moment puts you in the best position for tomorrow.

Excellence has its own reward.

The Power of Positive Feedback

"Feeling gratitude without expressing it
is like wrapping a gift and never giving it."

- William Ward

My daughter recently told a co-worker that she was one of the nicest people she has ever worked with. Her co-worker was overwhelmed by the simple compliment and started to cry.

Last week I had lunch with a Vice-President of Human Resources. He said for the first time in his career, he has a boss that gives him positive feedback. He feels empowered and supported.

I am reading a book by a very successful author. He said he began thinking about a writing career when one of his junior high school teachers told him he was a good writer.

In a world full of critics, complainers, and downers let's be the kind of person who is generous with sincere compliments. They take so little time and effort and make a huge impact.
 

"The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

- Proverbs 12:18
 

  • If your restaurant server is exceptional, look them in the eye and thank them for the good service (and leave a generous tip.)

  • If you are a leader, give those who report to you the recognition they deserve (by the way, it's your best retention tool.)

  • Tell your family members and friends specifically what you appreciate about them.

Make it your goal to give 3 sincere compliments a day.

Here is a simple life principle: you see what we are looking for. Look for the good. And when you see it, say it! 

The cool thing is when you encourage others, you will be uplifted. Life is a boomerang, what you send out comes back.

The Power of Listening

"Listening is a magnetic and strange force.
The people who listen to us are the ones we move toward."

- Karl Menninger

It is rare to find someone who gives you their focused attention. It's rare because true listening is hard work. Listening is difficult for several reasons.

First, with modern technology and devices, our attention span is getting shorter and shorter.

Second, humans speak at a rate of 125 words per minute but we can listen at a rate of 500 words per minute. That's lots of room to go on a mental vacation when someone else is talking.

Finally, we are all naturally self-centered, so listening is often simply being quiet until we get our turn to speak.

In school, we were taught several communication skills; reading, writing, and even public speaking in speech class. But we were never taught listening skills.

Here is a 4-step LISA model that will help you improve your listening.

L - Listen to understand.
(This much different than listening to respond.)

I - Inquire.
Probe deeper, ask questions.

S - Summarize.
Concisely paraphrase what you heard to ensure understanding.

A - Acknowledge.
Notice, A doesn't stand for Agree. You don't have to agree with the other person to acknowledge their opinion or perspective.

The fact is we can often have more influence with our ears than our mouth. Set yourself apart both personally and professionally by being the rare person who asks great questions and then gives the other person the gift of your focused attention.
 

“Listening is about being present, not just about being quiet.”
- Krista Tippett

12 Quotes for a Strong Week

Quotes say so much in just a few words. Here are 12 of my favorite...
 

"Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat
and taking the tartar sauce with you."

- Zig Ziglar

"He who kneels before God can stand before anyone."
- Ezra Benson

"Happiness is the full use of your powers along the lines of excellence."
- John F. Kennedy

"Every person alive is filled to the brim with value and possibilities,
with passion, with purpose.
Whenever all that abundance is focused and directed,
the result is undeniable greatness."

- Ralph Marston

"If we did all the things we are capable of doing,
we would literally astound ourselves.
"
- Thomas Edison

"Do not bring your need to the marketplace, bring your skill."
- Jim Rohn

"Find a tiny stream where your strengths can flow and carve it into a Mississippi."
- Marcus Buckingham

"If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being,
then I warn you that you'll be unhappy for the rest of your life."

- Abraham Maslow

"Kindness is in our power even when fondness is not."
- Samuel Johnson

"Perfection is not attainable,
but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

- Vince Lombardi

"We are not here to stick our toes in the water,
we are here to make waves."

- Alan Weiss

"The world makes way for a person who knows where they are going."
- Epictetus
 


And a little humor...

"Sometimes I think the whole world is against me,
but deep down I know that is not true.
Some of the smaller countries are neutral."

- Steven Wright